The rumors and speculation that have been swirling for over a year have finally came to be, Francis Bernard, a former BYU linebacker, has joined the Utah football program and started practicing Monday. Per the release:
Bernard will begin the mandated five-day acclimatization period today (Aug. 13). Bernard, a junior with two years to play two, redshirted in 2017 while taking classes at Rio Salado College.
After moving over from running back in 2016, Bernard had 79 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, and a very impressive INT against the Utes early in the season. Bernard transitioned to defense perfectly under Kalani Sitake, and he is a great addition to the Utes with 2 years to play 2. Bernard was granted a release from BYU after some off the field issues (check out this article from our friends at Vanquish the Foe on that). Before his release, and among some other stories of off the field issues, Bernard had reportedly expressed his desire to transfer to Utah, in fall camp before last season. Here’s where we covered that story.
Coach Whittingham said after practice today that Bernard had to work hard to get some of his academics in order and to meet some requirements from Coach Whitt before he could join the team. That’s no surprise, as Whitt has done that with players in the past who have had some off field issues, case in point, Darren Carrington a season ago.
Bernard adds some good depth to the linebacker corps, and takes that group up a notch, because he has experience and has shown some playmaking ability from that spot. I’ll be interested to see where he sits in a couple of weeks, and how much playing time he may earn when the season starts. I don’t really see him breaking the starting lineup, but he’ll likely be in the rotation.
Regardless, this is a story we were all waiting to happen, and now Bernard can move on with his last two seasons at Utah, and I have a hunch he’ll make an impact during his time here.